J-Lab


Dan Gillmor sees a day when reporters use suitcase-sized, satellite uplinks to report on leads culled from customized, syndicated feeds. He sees readers using cell phones to take pictures and upload them in public Web logs. He also sees emerging technology creating a new, far more participatory journalism.

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New York is a city of thousands of journalists and nearly as many news outlets. Amid such media noise, one small publication is creating news content that stands out from the crowd.

"About 10 percent of people will read a story based on its subject matter,"# said Jonathan Mandell, executive editor for the Gotham Gazette. "Our goal is to get the other 90 percent to learn about the issue."

For the Gazette, a city news site published by the New York Citizens Union Foundation, interactive content is the key to that goal.

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More than 18,000 visitors have logged into the first four online installments of “Fighting for Rochester’s Future” since the series launched March 30 in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, said managing editor Jane Sutter.

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More than 2,500 people are expected to weigh in to identify the worst traffic problems in the Everett, WA, area before the local media partners launch Phase II of their “Fix Your Commute” project, which will be an advanced simulation exercise.

Mark Briggs, new media editor of The Everett Herald, described the project’s second phase, set to launch this fall, as “a more advanced interactive experience, allowing users to build roads, add HOV lanes, charge tolls – really make a difference in a simulated way.

“They get a bill and have to come up with funding, too, since we’re trying to base the game in as much reality as possible,”” Briggs said.

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It starts like a typical "Rebuilding Iraq" TV feature. Amid scenes of lawlessness and chaos, Ret. Col. Charlie Borchini talks about improving security. Narrator Dara Brown poses a question — but not to the expert. Instead she asks you: "Would you have what it takes to keep the peace?"

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More than 600 people submitted budgets to The Seattle Times’ recent "Ax and Tax" interactive state budget balancing game.

Between April 20 and April 29, 604 people told The Times their thoughts on what state programs to cut and what taxes to add to fix the state’s $2.65 billion budget deficit. Nearly 90 percent of those users submitted a balanced or surplus budget, according to a recent Times article.

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There’s a duel going on at the highest levels of Pennsylvania’s government, and more than 23,000 people have taken part in it. This face-off isn’t taking place in the state Capitol building or the state Supreme Court; rather, it’s on the world wide web. The combatants: Dueling tax calculators.

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Minnesota’s budget this year is deep in red ink — $4.2 billion in the red. Programs need to be cut, money needs to be raised, and the governor and the state legislature are braced for some tough decisions.

Minnesota Public Radio, however, doesn’t think the elected officials should have all the fun. So MPR recently created "Budget Balancer," an interactive exercise that invites ordinary people to help solve the state’s budget problems.

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